Opinion

Make the pledge to be safe

Glenn-Sterle-road-safety-week

Did you know that traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24? Every year, approximately 1200 people are killed and another 44,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads.

These numbers are staggering and sadly, they continue to grow each year. But we all have a part to play when it comes to road safety, and National Road Safety Week is a time where we should all commit to being more aware and safer on the roads and drive so others survive!

National Road Safety Week is an initiative of Peter Frazer and the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group. The goal of the week is to raise awareness of road trauma and promote ways to reduce it. Members of the community are encouraged to go online and look at the different safety themes and objectives of the week as well as sign a pledge to commit to being safe on the roads, like I have done.

You can make the pledge here: https://roadsafetyweek.com.au/

One of themes for this year’s National Road Safety Week is ‘Arrive home safe for your loved ones – the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is to arrive home safe.’

As a former long distance truck driver, as the son of a former long distance truck driver, as a father of a long distance truck driver and as a mate of many truck drivers, I can tell you – arriving home safe to our families after being away from them for days and weeks on end while on the job is all we think about. 

For those who work in the road transport industry, road safety is and has to be front of mind at every stop. And we have many champions across the industry, including people from transport associations, unions and from academia, ensuring that policy makers and politicians don’t forget that.

As the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with the most committed advocates who never tire in their resolve to improve road safety for all. Professor Jeremy Wooley, Dr John Crozier, Dr Anthony Joseph, Lauchlan Macintosh, Claire Howe, Rob McInerny, Michael Bradley and Peter Frazer come to mind.

And their important work helps guide policy makers and politicians when it comes to drafting important documents such as the National Road Safety Strategy. A new National Road Safety Strategy for the decade 2021-2030 is currently being developed and is expected to be finalised and approved in early 2021. I look forward to reviewing this document once it is available.

I am continuing on with my Senate Inquiry which is looking at ways to improve the viability, sustainability, efficiency and most importantly, the safety of the road transport industry. COVID restrictions meant that I had to suspend the public hearing schedule that had been put together for this year however I look forward to resuming those hearings across the country in person as travel permits.

I am still taking submissions so if you would like to have your say on how you think the road transport industry can and should be improved, please get in touch with my office.

With not being able to travel interstate, I have had a lot more time to spend in my own back yard which has been great as I’ve had the time to meet with many operators and associations in WA who I either haven’t met before or who I haven’t been in contact with for a while.

It was great recently to sit down with David Fyfe from the WA branch of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association and Cam Dumesny and Craig Smith-Gander from the Western Roads Federation to discuss ways to attract more drivers to the industry.

In August, I had the absolute pleasure of joining Heather Jones from Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls in her pink Mack for a tour of regional rest areas and truck stops in the Pilbara. This followed a similar tour I went on with Tim Dawson, secretary of the WA Branch of the Transport Workers Union in July where we visited rest areas in regional WA, including in Newman.

Now I am very pleased that the McGowan Government is actively working with the WA Branch of the TWU to look at the condition of rest areas in WA but the Federal Government has a role to play here and I look forward to continuing to advocate for a stronger Federal focus on supporting adequate and fit for purpose rest and assembly areas across the country for our truck drivers.

This National Road Safety Week, I’d like to wish all your readers a safe trip wherever they are off to and remind them to drive so others can survive!

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